Saturday, October 06, 2007


I've spent parts of the last four days reading the new novel from Bill Flanagan, New Bedlam. I've read two previous books by Flanagan - U2: At the End of the World, an engrossing look at the band during the period of Achtung Baby, the Zoo TV tour, and Zooropa; and his first novel A&R, a fun book about the music business. This book stays in the realm of entertainment but is a look at television, another medium Flanagan is familiar with in his job as a higher-up for MTV.

New Bedlam starts with Bob Kahn, a TV executive who is taking the fall for a reality show that was fixed. He is desperate to find another job before people in the industry find out. He is successful to a point, taking an offer from a small cable provider that also has a couple channels in Rhode Island. King Cable is the domain of the King family, though that family is not a nuclear unit. Dominic, the father and founder, has three kids by three different women (Skyler, Annie, and Kenny, who is not actually a blood relative much to his chagrin). The novel is as much the story of the Kings as it is Bobby's but it also looks at how TV works with stunts and ratings and the like. One of the channels the family owns is the Comic Book Channel and I was surprised by how much comic books were in the novel.

I don't think the book is as funny as the jacket claims it to be and it's written in a style that bugs me - narrative shifts from paragraph to paragraph - but I still found New Bedlam to be entertaining and a pleasant way to occupy my time for a few days in an unseasonably warm October.

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